I should’ve stretched

It’s too late now. Only a post-match warm-down (in the shape of the best bath ever) would suffice, and suffice it did. Tonight was the hike, the voyage into the unknown for the terminally unfit; the walk home. Let me point out right now, I don’t live around the corner; Google Maps tells me I walked 7 miles, and I’m inclined to believe them.

There was a point when I didn’t think I’d make it, albeit before I’d started. Just the most inopportune moment for my beleagured Creative to breathe its last. But, motivated on to listen to the sounds London makes instead, one set off.

I’m hamming this up slightly, aren’t I?

Firstly up Chancery Lane, across High Holborn and on, to the red-hued pallasades of the regal Rosebery Avenue. Wending through the Clerkenwell/Farringdon borders is this serene and not-nearly-as-busy-as-it-could’ve-been boulevard; this part of Islington is the definition of pleasant. Now the walk is getting started, yesterday’s blister is flaring, the lack of exercise in the recent past is showing. Angel comes and goes, a barrage of free paperers to be swerved around, a plethora – really, an overindulgent number of Starbucks, a stream of clean-cut restaurants, each offering a different take on the established theme, catering to the type of people who visit Upper Street, the boeurgoisie not content with the good old same old. The unrelenting hipsterisation takes no prisoners, as the Old Parr’s Head of yore will testify; now a multitoned boutique to match the rest of the vicinity.

Upper Street proves no match for these legs, and takes in a pleasant parallel through Compton Terrace Gardens. The squirrels, having outfought Mark E Smith’s hedge trimmers, swagger through the gardens and anchor-shaped beds, pigeons and assorted avian friends fleeing at the animal equivalent of a nasty group of teenagers. That’s in contrast to the fairly polite and funny-looking group of people teenagers, possibly there unfeasibly early for Alexisonfire sideproject, City & Colourfind more here.

Highbury Corner (and more evening paper muggers (puggers?)) circumvented, it’s off to chase the wide expanses of pavement around Highbury Fields. The esoteric and enticing street names (Baalbec; Calabria) give the townhouses added charm, and as I stride past the overwhelmingly white population and their myriad pushchairs, I am starting to fly; gone is the stiffness, my steps are seven leagues long, I am flying. This is truly what life is for, to stride purposefully when all else meander, to face down one’s goals and take them at a run. I imagine I am caught up by angels, legs and ankles still wheeling, and I am touching down just once every dozen or so steps, and I am making progress, progress toward home, toward my goal, which has changed, the goal is to prolong the journey, to haze past the corner churches which figure so often in the novels I’m definitely going to write, to swan and shimmy past the admiring onlookers on Highbury Grove who pause in astonishment in the doorways of butchers shops and Italian delicatessens to gawp at my mighty walk.

I am on the downward slope! I am nearly here! Except I am not, I am barely halfway, and the hill descends from the esoteric and charmingly select Highbury into the considerably less salubrious Finsbury Park. On this walk, London’s contrasts are all too evident: even rounding Highbury Corner I am confronted with the choice of I-would-rather-kill-you-than-look-at-you Holloway Road (in the form of Staffie annd shaved head) and the more discreet Highbury Fields. I choose the latter.

From Stringrays and Highbury Barn I descend to the depths of Seven Sisters Road and swiftly on, over Finsbury Park. It’s the hills which have done it. My flying feet, those which could have leapt tall buildings in a bound are lead, they are tied to the ground my Lilliputian ropes so that they may barely move without dragging a horde of that tiny folk behind. Admittedly, I took probably the less direct route around the green, but I was gratified to see almost every sport I could think of being the centre of somebody’s life there in the Park. Football, skating, cricket, tennis – in Highbury Fields I saw a violent form of Tai Chi being worked out. So as I wandered past the ducks and the salad-munching geese I am weary, and I believe that all that is stopping me copping out is the lack of a direct bus. And so I plough on up Green Lanes, a bewildering display of jewellery shops, kebab shops, greengrocers and hidden delights. At the ever-dramatic Salisbury I turn to face the maze of terrace-lined streets of West Green. My way is hindered by the lack of footpath where I believed footpath to be, and thus my route takes an unexpected and stupid and avoidable diversion. No matter, in under two hours I am home and past the inexplicably bawling youth of Noel Park and into the comfort and delight of one’s own home.

My apologies to Dave Eggers for getting carried away.


One Response

  1. What Is The Best Pedometer…

    Thanks for creating this blog. I thought it was a very interesting read. It is so interesting reading other peoples personal take on a subject….

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